Upon all the contrastive traditions in the culture of this land, this is one that I have noticed so often it must have had a meaning. Regardless the tribe and ethnicity, this was so much a popular exploit I just had to dig into.
I was told that there are multiple reasons as to why locals executed burials within their marked/fenced land, sometimes right beside their doorstep. The first was because some families couldn’t entertain a proper burial and simply built their own coffin, sometimes with the help of the town’s carpenter at sometimes low to no fee at all(There are few who exclude the use of coffins as well). Then they would gather some tiles and build a little slab above the area where they would occasionally portray the catholic cross.
On the other hand, there were more interesting explanations to this act. I was also told that in some villages only men of the family would be buried near the house so their remains would act as some sort of protection to the household and it’s members. Some would also bury members who had little or no religious interests during their life beside their homes as most rural cemeteries are run by the neighboring Church and they felt that the corpse of a non-believer does not belong in those premises causing unrest to it.
Crossing the borders of Nigeria or Africa itself, a body comes within the definition of “clinical waste”.As soon as you mention burial outside of a cemetery, a great wave of learned opinion will strike you, coming from Uncle Bob, Government departments and everyone in between. It is opinion that has the majority of people over there earnestly believing that burial outside of consecrated ground is illegal, and opinion that makes one council actively help its residents if they want burial outside of a cemetery whilst another attempts to obstruct it. Having their reasons of course, such as cases where people buried corpses which polluted underground water tables connecting through the city, this would never be the case in Nigeria, as it barely even has below surface systems and when yes, it would be just a single pipe running across entire urban areas.
Some people don’t even garnish their beloved ones graves with decorations and simple use wooden sticks and a stiff rope to demarcate a cross. These people are after looked down by others in the village community, but there are non-materialistic people overall, aren’t they?
Asking further about the depth the villagers dig when they plan to bury, I got a quite precise answer (surprisingly). No coffin shall be buried in any grave without less than 30 inches of soil between the surface of [the ground] and the upper side of the coffin, where the standard cemeteries would dig the old six feet deep ditch, but that’s because they plan to bury a second coffin on top in the distant future.
Discussing about all this burial business with a couple of kind locals by the shores of the lagos beach ( under fifty kilometers from the city ), they laughed and smiled about it thoroughly while I couldn’t help but open my eyes wider in unease and dismay every second. I could tell that they’ve been through a lot. But then again, who in these areas receives the golden spoon growing up?
Big thanks to the local guys who answered all my questions as I found no disclosure to this interesting act earlier on.